Day of the Dead Skin Cells – Happy Halloween from the Aria team!
This October we are taking a look at the process of exfoliation, the term given to removing built up dead skin cells. What works best, what doesn’t and why you should be exfoliating regularly.
Let’s start with the why. Did you know your skin cells are constantly renewing themselves? In a healthy skin, keratinocytes (aka skin cells) should take 28 days to move from the bottom of the epidermis to the top as they flatten, dry out and eventually slough off. The process of desquamation (cell turnover) continues ever on within the skin but can become out of balance, happening too slow or too quickly. By routinely removing dead build up we can keep cell division regular, maintaining a healthy, glowing appearance to the skin.
There are two distinct categories of exfoliation: Mechanical and Chemical. Both are beneficial when used on the correct skin type.
Mechanical exfoliation is the technique of manually removing dead skin cells, most commonly with an abrasive scrub. There are a couple of factors to consider when using a mechanical exfoliant. First is skin type; a thickened skin is best for physical exfoliation. A sensitive, reactive prone and thin skin would be best to avoid mechanical exfoliation as it can further disrupt the skin’s barrier. Secondly, the grit or abrasiveness of your scrub should be considered. For example, an apricot kernel under a microscope is star shaped which leads to micro tears in the skin when scrubbed or dragged across its surface. This does more damage than good so instead, look for a cylindrical shaped grit to gently but effectively buff off dead skin cells. Mechanical exfoliation should generally be used once per week and is amazing followed by a hydrating / anti-aging or clarifying mask. Deep product penetration is enabled after dead skin cells are removed.
Chemical exfoliation (sounds scary, but promise it’s not!) is the technique of causing a chemical reaction within the skin to dissolve dead skin cells. There are a variety of ingredients that instigate this cellular removal that range from super gentle to highly resurfacing.
Let’s start by looking at digestive enzymes. Certain enzymes found in fruits ‘munch up’ dead skin cells. For example, bromelain derived from pineapple or papain from papaya act as little ‘Pac Men’ on the surface of the skin, munching into the dead skin cells. This can be a very gentle form of exfoliation where moisture is infused simultaneously.
Next up are the very popular AHA’s. Alpha Hydroxy Acids are highly effective in regulating the skin’s cell turnover. Ranging from the most gentle Lactic Acid to resurfacing high percentage Glycolic Acid, AHA’s trigger a chemical reaction to remove dead keratinocytes. Lactic Acid has a large molecular structure, meaning slow and superficial penetration into the skin layers. This allows for minimal irritation as Lactic Acid works by drawing up massive amounts of water through the skin layers until the dead skin cells are so full of water that they burst off. This gives a smooth, glowing and very hydrating appearance.
Lastly let’s look at an anti-acne super hero exfoliant, the BHA Salicylic Acid. This Beta Hydroxy Acid is super effective in removing the buildup of dead skin cells within the lining of the hair follicle (this build up is responsible in part for congestion and pimples). Salicylic Acid is a lipid or oil loving ingredient meaning it readily penetrates into the skin’s pore to unclog congestion, reduce inflammation and help regulate oil production. Salicylic acid also loosens and breaks apart desmosomes (attachments between cells in the outer layer of skin) leaving a softer, smooth and clearer appearance to skin.
In conclusion, effective exfoliation is a personalized experience and should be prescribed by a skin care professional. Your exfoliant should remove dead skin cells without stripping the skin of its natural oils or causing excessive irritation. Stressed skin, now that’s something that scares us here at Aria.
Happy October! Stay spooky and may your skin be smooth, strong and glowing.
Love, Kayla and the Aria team xx